Last week I shared three reasons big churches keep getting bigger on facebook and wondered how the UK church would be different if 1 in 10 Christians attended a church of over 2000, whether it would be a good thing and what chance there would be of any of them being Baptist?
Whether vision or megalomania on my part I wondered this week what changes I would need to make to the way I do ministry if I were to lead a big church. I reckon there are two main ones:
- I’d work less. I would take more time off to pray, think, read and dream. I’d do less but make excellence the hallmark of everything I did.*
- I’d grow a team to help me communicate vision and ethos. As churches grow they naturally add pastoral support, youth, children and families workers. I’d want a mission enabler, worship leader and design / communications person in the mix as well; people who would take my ideas and turn them into concrete actions.
British Baptists are generally suspicious of notions of big churches preferring churches built around a pastoral model, or where it is possible for the whole church to play an active role in ‘discerning the mind of Christ’. We are generally happier with decisions that are open to review and change rather than strategic choices that are consistently used to direct church life. When churches get to needing more staff the desire is often to add breadth rather than maximise the ministry of the senior leader. Which means most don't grow beyond 200 and very few beyond 400.
Personally, I’m not sure that lots of big (2000 people or more) churches is what Britain needs. If our culture is best illustrated by supermarkets we are a nation where the Tesco Extra is king, large enough for everything to be together but not shopping centre sized. We best engage society by transforming a local area and by pioneering fresh initiatives not seeking power; which doesn’t preclude big churches but makes them the exception.
As for me I’m more interested in releasing people to follow Jesus than encouraging people to join with me; I’m reflective rather than loud and keen on nuanced arguments rather than clear slogans. And from what I’ve seen of leaders of big churches (admittedly from the US) these are not the qualities required.
What do you think? Do we need more big Baptist Churches?
*this is not to imply that discerning vision is a one person role.